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2D graphics - why use spritesheets?

Something like this file from here:

I haven't write game with animated gif before.... So I wonder why. When I unpack some game, I see them in this kind of format as well.

Why they are not divide them into individual bitmap? When they are using it, do they IMPORT them into individual bitmap? or just use display them using offset?

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    \$\begingroup\$ That is called a "spritesheet". To start with, google that term. \$\endgroup\$ – jhocking Jan 24 '12 at 3:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ They are called spritesheets, they are faster to access than separate image files, and more flexible than a GIF. \$\endgroup\$ – John McDonald Jan 24 '12 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that's what is called... Time to google~ But I still don't understand why not store them into individual file. animation1.bmp, animation2.bmp etc... I want to write game in Silverlight, so I wonder ifI should use spritesheet... \$\endgroup\$ – King Chan Jan 24 '12 at 4:10

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